TR: Pierce's still lofty goals: No. 1, Olympic medal
Pierce's still lofty goals: No. 1, Olympic medal
Plus: Barefoot Sharapova, Hingis, Capriati
By Matthew Cronin, TennisReporters. net
FROM THE ACURA CLASSIC IN SAN DIEGO – After another six months off in a career that has included plenty of long stints on the disabled list, one might expect the 31-year-old Mary Pierce to say that this season is her last.
But no such thoughts have entered the American-Frenchwoman's head. She's back and ready to defend her Acura Classic title and has no plans to retire.
Not only that, she's aiming for the heavens again and given how well she played last year when she reached two Slam finals as well as the Sony Ericsson WTA Championships final and finished the year ranked No. 4 (for the fourth time), there are few reasons to doubt her elite possibilities.
"I look at it two different ways," Pierce said. "My real core is to be the best I can be. That's tough because I think I can improve, but then you can look at specific goals and tournaments. The only thing I haven't done is been No. 1, made the final of Wimbledon or win it, and I don't have an Olympic medal, Those are the three things I want. They are very lofty goals, but I've done everything else."
In February, Pierce tore ligaments and hurt a bone in her foot at the Paris Indoors. She thought that she'd only be out for a little while. But it turned out that she would get another substantial stint in the trainer's room.
But, instead of spending her days considering life after tennis, which she did back in 2001 and 2002 when she couldn't shake back and shoulder injuries, she just waited for the healing to be completed.
"It didn't even cross my mind because at the beginning because I didn't think the injury was that bad and it didn't need surgery," she said. "In my mind I thought I don't know how long it will be, but I'll do my rehab every day and try to stay fit. It was kind of crazy and unexpected. Maybe it was a fatigue from all the playing and training and that I didn't have much of break from the beginning of the season to the start. It was a forced rest."
Outside of Martina Navratilova at 31, no recent woman's player has had a substantial impact the ripe old age of 30. Lindsay Davenport will soon face that challenge and Pierce is going up against it now. Currently ranked No. 9, Pierce is the oldest player in the Top 10 by a long shot.
"I still have the desire," she said. I wouldn't do it again if I didn't. My goals are still there. It's so funny, last year I was sitting here at the same time and being asked about my goals, they were like Whew! I want to be back in the Top 10 again, I want to qualify for WTA Championships again, and I did them."
Last year in San Diego, Pierce won her first major US hard court title. But then, she had a number of matches under belt. She has a decent draw here until the quarters, when she could face Maria Sharapova.
Speaking of Ms. Sharapova, she was full of light-hearted quips after her 6-4, 6-1 second-round win over fellow Russian Vasilisa Bardina.
Sharapova said she was a bit stunned when Bardina, an 18-year-old qualifier who also had a fine week at Stanford, began their warm-up by starting that the net. "Did she hit a volley all night? Sharapova asked.
Bardina also called for a trainer for a shoulder injury down 1-4 in the second set.
"She pulled all the tricks out of her bag except for the win," Sharapova said. "I don't know anything about her except that every time I see her dad, he walks barefoot. I love walking barefoot in the grass. I think that's cool."
So now, if Sharapova can get her father, Yuri, to kick off shoes, a new Russian trend could start.
"Yeah, like that's going to happen," Sharapova said with a laugh. "If that happens, I'm gone."
Martina Hingis also moved on, taking a 6-2 6-3 win over American Meilen Tu. For much more on Hingis, read my column on Foxsports.com. But here's a must read here on her relationship with her boyfriend, No. 9 men's player Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
How about Wimbledon, where Hingis lost in the third round and Stepanek reached the quarterfinals.
"Darn," she said with a laugh. "But I did better at the other two Slams."
Two decent-sized wins for non-seeds: Vera Zvonareva beat Ai Sugiyama and Elena Vesnina of Russia upended Anna-Lena Groenefeld. … The tournament sold out on Tuesday night. Venus and Serena who?
Hingis, who owns a home at Saddlebrook Resort in Florida, says that Jennifer Capriati still isn't hitting. She also said that former Saddlebrook resident Justine Henin-Hardenne hasn't trained in Florida in a long time.
Hingis was presented with the Acura Classic's Corina Morariu Comeback Award. "When (the court announcer) was talking all about my past and what I've achieved, it kind of reads like a fairy tale," Hingis said. “It's one part of my life, and then I was doing other things. Now I'm back here. I feel like a rookie more than a comeback."
The gentle and underrated Conchita Martinez, who owns a home in the area, was also honored. With Gaby Sabatini's induction into the Hall of Fame, Conchi is now a lock.
© TennisReporters. net 2006
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Last edited by Fabunny; Aug 3rd, 2006 at 11:34 PM.